Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Freeport to unveil Civil War marker on Sunday (9/21)

Four Mile Creek at Freeport, Florida
The Northwest Florida city of Freeport will unveil a new historical marker on Sunday to commemorate the community's role in the 1864 Raid on Marianna.

Freeport is located where Four Mile Creek connects with LaGrange Bayou, an arm of Choctawhatchee Bay, and was a small but thriving port when the War Between the States (or Civil War) erupted in 1861. The deep bayou and creek provided a natural port for the commerce of the Euchee Valley and surrounding areas of Walton County and considerable commerce took place there. Schooners and steamboats traveled back and forth between the community and Pensacola.

Historical image of Four Mile Creek
State Archives of Florida/Memory Collection
As Brigadier General Alexander Asboth (US) planned his raid against Marianna in September 1864, pilots told him that Four Mile Creek would be a good place for taking on additional supplies before setting off into the interior. Deserters and Unionists from Walton County also told him of the prosperous family farms in the Euchee Valley and the cattle herds then grazed along the Shoal River.

Although he originally planned to advance by way of Santa Rosa Island and cross to the mainland via the site of today's Destin, the general changed his plans to allow him to strike against the farms and ranches of Walton County. His troops came around the northern edge of Choctawhatchee Bay and reached Freeport on September 21, 1864. They were met there by the quartermaster steamer Lizzie Davis, a former Confederate blockade runner. On board were supplies, ammunition, cannon and additional troops.

Brig. Gen. Alexander Asboth
Union Commander during Marianna Raid
Asboth used the port as a final base from which to launch his raid. When he turned his column inland on the 21st, he left the Lizzie Davis waiting at the port under the protection of a detachment of New York troops and two cannon. On the 23rd, after the Federals overran a Confederate camp near present-day Defuniak Springs, the prisoners of war, unserviceable horses and a number of liberated slaves were sent down to Freeport under the escort of soldiers from the 1st Florida Cavalry (U.S.).

Having completed its mission at Freeport, the Lizzie Davis steamed across the bay to Point Washington on September 24th to await the return of the troops.  The long blue column turned north on the same day, heading up the west side of the Choctawhatchee River and out of Walton County.

The three day Union occupation of Freeport gave the community the distinction of being the final base from which the Federal troops departed for the Battle of Marianna. To commemorate and preserve the memory of its role in the raid, the city will unveil a new historical marker.

Four Mile Creek Landing at Freeport
The unveiling will take place at Four Mile Creek Landing in Freeport on Sunday (9/21) at 3 p.m. Sunday marks to the day the 150th anniversary of Asboth's arrival at Freeport.

The new historical marker is the result of a community-wide effort. Local resident Danny Katro first suggested the idea, which was adopted by Tim Ard and the Heritage Center of Freeport. Donations for the purchase of the marker came from the City of Freeport, Mayor Russ Barley, Tim Ard, Council President Janice & Billy McLean, Councilwoman Kasey & Ro Cuchens, Choctawhatchee Bay Piling & Dock, The Adkinson Law Firm, Danny Katro Electric and the Freeport Town Planters Society.

The public is encouraged to attend!

Please click here to learn more about Asboth's Raid and the Battle of Marianna.

Please click here to learn more about Freeport, Florida.

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